1753
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Gartan Courtship. A Pastoral Night-piece.

The Ulster Miscellany. Containing, I. A Voyage to O'Brazeel, a sub-marine Island, lying West off the Coast of Ireland. II. Advice to a Son, in the exemplary Way of Stories, Fables, &c. III. The Brute Philosophers: in six Dialogues. IV. The Ladies Monitor; or, The Way of the Army. V. Poems on religious Subjects. VI. Thoughts on various Subjects. VII. Poems on humorous Subjects; consisting of Tales, Epistles, Songs, Epigrams, &c. &c.

M.


In this Ulster Scots pastoral Robin pleads with "bonny Jenny" to abandon her wheel and slip away with him to enjoy the pleasures of the moonlight. She refuses to answer, despite Robin's assurances that her mother is much too engaged in gossip to pay any heed: "And now's your time, I'll take my aith, | Steal out, my dear, and slip them baith. | Steal out, and let peer Robin kiss ye; | I'se warrant them, they winna miss ye." The poem, in equal parts humorous and sentimental, is signed "M."

Despite Spenser's example, dialect eclogues are very scarce in eighteenth-century Irish literature — though perhaps more were written than printed. The inspiration for this poem, apparently the work of an Ulster Presbyterian, is most likely Allan Ramsay's Gentle Shepherd — Ramsay's name appears more than once in the verse epistles published in this miscellany, for which no publisher or place of publication is given.



Sae, bonny Jenny, are ye there?
The lass that's winsome, plump, and fair.
Fye, woman, quat that purring wheel,
And gi' the wench her pirn to reel;
Ye've deen, or else the sorrow's in't,
Ye've cust ye're hank, and that's the stint;
Come furth, and streetch your limbs a while,
Come furth, and bless me wi' a smile,
I fain wad speak a word or twa,
Come furth and dinna say me na.

The night is pleasant, lown, and clear,
Ye'll see the muntains far and near,
Ald Doowish wi' his lowtin back,
And Mukkish like a lang peet stack;
Proud Argill wi' his tow'ring height,
Sets off the beauty of the night;
White wash'd shortsine, yon glebe house wa
By meen-light shines like driven sna'.
A' things luick charming to the view,
But nought sae charming luicks as you.

The meen alang the welkin scuds,
And cuts her way thro' jostling cluds;
Ye'd think that a' the starns abeen,
Were gath'ring round their passing queen;
And pleas'd to see her shine sae braw,
Forming her train baith great and sma'.

A showman on a market day,
Thro' gaping crouds thus clears his way,
And marches proudly up the street,
Wi' a' the weans at his feet.
Come out, my dear, and luick about yet,
There's naithing pleasant here without ye.

I doubt ye darna for ye'r mither,
What ne'er wad let us meet the gither;
But yonder she's tane up, you see,
In deep discourse wi' Katrin Lee:
The twa ald wives ayont the fire,
Are settled to their hearts desire;
To light, to smoak, to shagh about,
And clatter till their pipe be out;
Twa paddling duicks in April rain,
Seem not of ither half sae fain:
And now's your time, I'll take my aith,
Steal out, my dear, and slip them baith.
Steal out, and let peer Robin kiss ye;
I'se warrant them, they winna miss ye.

I think ye hae nae mind to stir!
(Howt, will ye boast that filthy curr)
Weel sit, till cockcraw gin ye like,
(Shamefa' the yelping o' that tike)
Haith, ye'll repent ye, when I'm gane,
And wish ye had my counsel tane;
But now ye've gart me turn my heel,
I'll no come back — sae — fare ye weel.

[pp. 371-72]